Fascinating to watch Kevin Rudd back in "7.30 Report Land" again. Like so many are now, I'm immune to his folksy fakery. So as Leigh Sales questioned him I was watching him much more critically than when he was PM previously.
Rudd always struck me as being a bit robotic; not quite human. But this quality seemed far more pronounced this time. I kept seeing him as a nerdy Terminator, sent back through time to destroy Australia's economy! All through his interview I kept imagining bits of his face falling off, revealing the gleaming metal machinery underneath.
Now that we know what he's been up to over the last three years, the quirky but gentle persona he's so keen to present doesn't just look silly. It's downright sinister.
And the bit where he brushed off talk of vengeance was astonishing:
LEIGH SALES: Is there another reason: revenge?
KEVIN RUDD: Oh, good grief, no. Sort of past all that a long time ago. If I was so sorta wounded by the events of 2010, I would've gone offer whimpering into the corner a long time ago. I'm a positive sort of bloke, get on with the business and had we been travelling in much better circumstances, then I'm sure none of these events would've happened.
So, he's employing the same tactic of outright denial that Gillard used after she knifed him. Except it's even more absurd than when she used it.
Fact is, he had heaps to do with Gillard's downfall. Spent much of his time plotting, leaking and poncing about in front of the cameras to damage her leadership. And on his third attempt he finally got rid of her! Then he turns around and with a straight face says he has no ill will towards her and had nothing to do with her ousting. Ha!
Clearly, in all that time he hasn't given much thought to how he was going to govern when he reclaimed the top job. The interview makes clear that he's policy light, and even though he dispatched Gillard, he's still totally dependent on her tactic of demonizing Abbott.
His attempt to characterize the conflict between them was truly desperate:
KEVIN RUDD: ... I think it's time you demonstrated to the country you had a bit of ticker on this. I mean, he's the boxing blue; I'm the glasses-wearing kid in the library - come on, let's have the Australian people form a view about whether his policies actually have substance, whether they actually work or whether they're just slogans and I'm prepared on each of these things to take him on directly.
Labor luvvies and pollies are always trying to smear Abbott as a thug and are forever reminding us of his love of boxing. (Actually I'm surprised Rudd didn't use their favoured word "pugilist".)
The reality is that Abbott is a highly intelligent and articulate former journalist and Rhodes Scholar whose arguments against Labor have caused them endless grief. The thug label was tired long ago, and I think that most of the electorate sees through it now.
There was plenty more in that interview that revealed how desperate Rudd is. I think he's going to lurch from one improvised tactic to another from now on. While his reign won't be the rolling disaster that Gillard's was it's sure to result in him being much less popular come election time than he is now.